Posted on Jun 08, 2018, 6 p.m.
Antibodies are Y shaped molecules that recognize pathogens with their two arms that bind any kind of molecule in the surface of pathogens, interaction is limited to only a small part of it. This specific antibody binding site on the molecule is called an epitope by immunologists. Epitope is likely to be comprised by only a few amino acids if the antigen is a protein.
The body is constantly producing antibodies, every newly generated antibody is unique. When the body is exposed to pathogens the antibody system will generally contain individual antibodies which will recognize different epitopes and molecules on its surface, interactions will typically lead to pathogens being eliminated by the immune system, interactions trigger the immune system to produce more antibodies and improve their ability to bind with specific targets. These improved specific antibodies help to clear pathogens rapidly, and are stored by the immune system to mediate protection in case of another exposure to the same pathogen, making antibody specificity highly important to mediate protection from pathogens.
As more and more pathogens become resistant to antibiotics, such as Klebsiella pneumonia, infections with bacterial pathogens can become life threatening. Antibodies jobs are to help eliminate bacteria or help prevent infection in individuals at risk such as immunocompromised patients. Klebsiella pneumoniae forms slightly differ in structure of surface molecules that are recognized by antibodies, to prevent infection from these pathogens antibodies must be found that can recognize and eliminate all forms of these molecules.
Laboratories set out to determine if such antibodies exist within humans, Tim Rollenske was able to find them and showed how the antibodies manage to bind different forms of Klebsiella bacteria, these antibodies were demonstrated to protect mice from infections with different forms of Klebsiella suggesting it may be the same in humans.
Thus far it has not been seen how exactly the antibodies interact with target structures. Investigating similarities inspired the belief that the antibodies bind very tight epitopes that are shared among different Klebsiella surface molecules that are recognized by the antibodies, the universal antibodies recognize the shared structures; these structures were found to exist even in other bacteria, viruses, and yeast.
Data shows the antibodies protect mice from infections with different forms of Klebsiella, it is believed that antibodies can be developed as prophylactic drugs to prevent Klebsiella infections in individuals at risk or as therapeutics for infection.
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